This Month's Picks

Let the Good Times Roll (CD)

JD McPherson
JD McPherson makes no bones about being indebted to the classics—heck, he named his second album  Let the Good Times Roll . But McPherson isn’t interested in merely dusting off Sun Records 45s and recreating their sound, successfully putting his own spin on early rock ‘n’ roll on songs like the stomping title track. Rather than reminding you of specific Elvis Presley or Little Richard songs, he uses some of their elements—Jerry Lee Lewis’ pounding piano, Carl Perkins’ crisp tones—as well as some new ones, like the looping, dirt-crusted acoustic guitar and electric guitar ambience on the rollicking “Bossy.” Together with producer Mark Neill, McPherson crafts a neat palette of horns and percussion to growl over in “It’s All Over But the Shouting,” while a healthy dose of garage vigor helps “It Shook Me Up” stay true to its name. With production that begs for headphones, McPherson sounds spot-on as a ’50s-style rabble-rouser transported to a modern-day studio, which in and of itself is a difficult feat. But the fact that the music is so enjoyable is a tribute to McPherson’s talents—that snarling tenor doesn’t hurt. With  Let the Good Times Roll , McPherson gets past wearing his influences on his sleeve and does one better than rock revivalists like The Black Keys or Mark Ronson. He’s the real deal. More
Genre: Rock, Rockabilly

Made In Chicago (CD)

Jack DeJohnette
Some of the baddest free jazz available. Clearly DeJohnette, Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill have lost none of the fire from the early days of the AACM. This album, additionally featuring Larry Gray on bass, demonstrates that clearly. More
Genre: Jazz


Two bands of pop miscreants, Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, join forces on this LP that plays to the wily strengths of both acts. Suave, danceable nighttime tales like the synth-poppin’ “Call Girl” and tracks like the mini-operatic “Johnny Delusional” each serve to highlight the appeal of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, respectively, while deeper cuts meld their styles more fully, marrying Franz’s driving post-punk beats to Sparks’ art-pop whimsies perfectly on “Dictator’s Son.” With six players, there are a lot of ideas and voices on  FFS  (literally, as vocals tend to be handled in group-sing fashion), yet for all of its variety, the album feels pretty honed while plenty varied, allowing room for an extended acoustic narrative like “Little Guy from the Suburbs” and madcap new-waver like “Police Encounters” to share space. It’s the rare supergroup that works because both bands seem to enliven each other, Sparks’ decades of experience in not giving a fuck helping Franz Ferdinand to lighten up a bit from their past few albums, and Franz’s energy helping Sparks to sound relevant and young again. The bands themselves are aware of how silly such a project can come off—one track sees the sixsome pointing out how often “Collaborations Don’t Work” over slowly morphing chamber-pop. This time, it does. More
Genre: Rock

The Documentary 2 (CD)

The Game
The Documentary  was one of the flat-out best hip hop albums of the mid-2000s, a West Coast rap classic with emotionally engaging lyrics and dazzling production from Timbaland, a pre-fame Kanye West and his mentor, Dr. Dre, among others. Tracks like “Hate It Or Love It” helped put The Game into the limelight and West Coast hip hop back on the map. So it makes sense he’d revisit his best work a decade later with this sequel of sorts. With Dr. Dre back at the production helm and Game sounding more energized than he has in years,  The Documentary 2  indeed lives up to its namesake. He reminds you of how good his slice-of-life lyrics can sound with the right production on tracks like “100,” with Game sailing on throwback vibes and Drake moving from a drunken chorus to spilling verbiage. And he raps circles around West Coast heir Kendrick Lamar over an Erykah Badu sample with “On Me,” showing ’em he still knows how it’s done. Disc One is out Oct. 9, with a double-disc edition hitting Oct. 16. And check out an  LP reissue  of the original  Documentary  Jan. 13! More
Genre: Hip Hop

Chronovision (CD)

After 100+ demos and being carefully recorded in four different studios around the country, including Los Angeles' Sound City, New York's Electric Lady Studios and a makeshift home studio in their native Tacoma, Oberhofer has created one of the most fun New Wave albums since you took off your Members Only jacket. Taking a three year hiatus since his last album, Brad Oberhofer has been through the death of his roommate due to a heroin addiction, the death of his grandmother and the stress of endless touring to finally finish his second album. But the emotion blares out of each note as his theatrical vocals croon over endless fuzz guitar and staccato precision so sharp and precise that it almost feels like a drum machine. The music just feels like a warm, nostalgic look at beautiful times that have passed. But there's no time for tears when you're too busy dancing! More
Genre: Rock

Survival Songs (CD)

Bob Forrest
When Bob Forrest uses the title  Survival Songs  for his latest album, there's not a single hint of irony to it. Having previously been in the legendary Los Angeles post-punk band, Thelonious Monster, and the more alternative The Bicycle Thief, Bob Forrest was the Los Angeles music scene, on top of his incredibly close relationship to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But in a moment of weakness, he succumbed to the horrors of heroin. After years of struggles, he finally kicked the habit and made a healthy full-circle by becoming a drug counselor. But the music still burned inside of him and nearly thirty years since starting his career, he's prepared to give us his new solo album. Stripping away any type of egotistical flourishes or rock showboating,  Survival Songs  is a solid singer-songwriter beauty that's as raw and intimate as sitting in the recording studio itself. Armed with just a guitar and his trademark scrowl, the lack of any superfluous sounds just makes this a bigger gut-punch of an album. This is an album about the complexities and realities of death, tragedy, love, celebration, terror, the past and present. In one word: emotions. More
Genre: Rock

Unbreakable [w/free Sticker] (CD)

Janet Jackson
The queen is back! On her latest release, Janet Jackson has teamed up once again with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the production duo with whom she made some of her most celebrated works ( Control, Rhythm Nation 1814 ). While it’s tempting to call every new album by an established artist who hasn’t released a great album in a while a “comeback album,”  Unbreakable ’s the real deal. The first single “No Sleeep,” luxuriates in humid quiet storm vibes, while Janet sings about one of her favorite subjects (take a guess what that is), and a guest rap from J. Cole keeps things youthful. On the stunning title track, Jackson’s voice sounds immaculate, singing about commitment over a dazzling layers of whispery backup vocals and stuttering beats. If it sounds like Jackson’s settling in instead of trying in vain to keep up with the kids she’s inspired, that’s only partially true. Most of  Unbreakable  is classy and elegant in a way we haven’t heard since the brilliant  The Velvet Rope , while tracks like the minimalist bounce of “Burn It Up!” (featuring Missy Elliott) prove she’s still perfectly capable of coming out with a banging club track whenever she wants. Madonna, this is how aging gracefully as a pop star is done. More
Genre: Soul

Allas Sak (CD)

Swedish psych-rockers Dungen indulge in some proggy theatrics on their latest, upending dad rock clichés to make classic sounding rock ‘n’ roll cool and mysterious again in the process. More
Genre: Rock

In Colour (CD)

Jamie xx
Producer and member of The xx Jamie Smith has just released a game-changing debut LP. Favoring melody and atmosphere over simply having a nice beat,  In Colour  is able to wrangle a wide variety of sounds into a living, breathing whole. Tracks like “Gosh” layer found sounds and field recordings underneath appealing synth lines. Mellower tracks like “Sleep Sound” and “SeeSaw” are terrific after-hours jams, like passing out outside a rave and letting the beats pulse through your dreams. The xx member Oliver Sim shows up to lend his narcotic vocals to the noirish “Stranger in a Room,” while fellow xx singer Romy Madley Croft smears black mascara all over the heartbreak beat of “Loud Places,” which makes wonderful use of a sample of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” on the song’s rousing chorus. Though it’s a bit jarring to hear rapper Young Thug and dancehall artist Popcaan on the following track “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” the song itself is a worthy hip-hop crossover that enlivens the album as a whole. It may sound cheesy, but  In Colour  really does prove that trip-hop, post-punk, house and hip-hop can call reside under the same roof, as Smith expertly strings these sounds together into new nocturnal anthems. It’s not too soon to call this a new electronic masterwork. More

Dodge & Burn (CD)

The Dead Weather
Alison Mosshart’s vocals tear down the heavens on the Zeppelin-esque new single “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” by The Dead Weather, the supergroup featuring Jack White on drums. That’s just the start of an album that doubles down on its members’ strengths and explores fertile new territory. Guitarist/organist Dean Fertita (QOTSA) and bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) provide the dueling riffage that sends a track like “Buzzkill(er)” sailing deep into your skull. Mosshart and White wail through a skronky blues stomp on “Let Me Through,” while White raps his way through the sinister “Three Dollar Hat” and takes the lead on the noirish shuffle of “Rough Detective.” Lawrence’s sinister, fuzzed out bass helps set the state for the awesomely bleaked out “Mile Markers,” and Fertita’s organ pulse and serpentine guitar snarls on “Cop and Go” are nothing to mess with. With  Dodge & Burn , The Dead Weather remain the most badass arena fillers around, four killer musicians unleashed and doing their thing with abandon.  More
Genre: Rock